Posted by: atowhee | March 30, 2017


It’s not just climate change and acidifying oceans and a sixth extinction event being caused by people…it’s a whole new geological layer added to the planet…all the stuff we thought we needed but then discard. OUr era may not just be anthropocene, it’s the Age of Trash.

Posted by: atowhee | March 30, 2017


The Pacific Ocean is home to the seven-arm octopus which can weigh as much as 165 pounds and have a total length of 13 feet.  Hitherto very little was known about this species except what could be learned from corpses found in fishermen’s nets.  Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s research vessel which is capable of great depths has captured video of this octopus eating a jellyfish.

This creature does have the required EIGHT arms to be an OCTOpus. There are seven free-reaching arms and the eighth is kept in a secret pocket, sort of on reserve.  It is known that octopuses are among the smartest invertebrates and have repeatedly shown a great ability to solve spatial problems…and escape from captivity.

The female seven-arm is the larger gender; males are only a fraction as big.  This is only the third time in 27 years of research that Monterey scientists have seen this creature alive as it lives in deep, pelagic waters.  Like many benthic creatures it is white as there is no use for color in waters so deep there is little or no light.   Monterey Bay Aquarium also pioneered research on other soft-bodied benthic creatures and found that they would not survive at the surface if the oxygen level of the water was not reduced.  They proved fine with warmer water, more light, different saline levels but oxygen was fatal so to keep them alive at the surface the aquarium found ways to de-oxygenate their tank water.

The paper published about the octopus findings concludes that these creatures feed mostly on gelatinous zooplankton, a food source also preyed on by leatherback sea turtles and tuna. For more on the research findings on this octopus, click here for Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s MBARI) website.

The deep sea research done at Monterey often depends on the the “Ventana” a remote-operated diving vehicle that is now 30 years old and has logged 16,000 hours underwater. This subnarine has been continually upgraded to keep up with technological advances. Fortunately the MBARI work is not federally funded and their research on the oceans and climate change will continue in spite of certain cretinous political powers in the U.S.

There is both good news and deep irony in the story of the MBARI.  It is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Mr Packard was a prominent Republican, serving as Deputy Secretary of Defense for two years under President Richard Nixon.  Packard was co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, serving as CEO and then Chairman of the Board of that Silicon Valley start-up that went big time.  His daughter was a marine biologist and that is how he and his associates got involved in founding both the aquarium and the research institute. It seems highly unlikely such a man of science and engineering would be welcomed in today’s Republican Party.

Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2017


IT was Republican-run Florida state government that first banned its employees of discussing or mentioning climate change. If the words go away so does the problem.  This is the most simplistic form of heresy.  If you say it are the problem.  Hear no evil…

Well, now Florida’s approach is spreading across the U.S. agencies as has been foreseen by climate scientists who have rushed to save their data.  If Trump gets the kind of budget cuts he wants there will be an end to almost all scientific climate research in America.  We will have to wait for the Europeans, Canadians and Japanese to tell us what’s happening to our planet.

Well, the heresy police have clamped down at the DOE’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy. No more “climate change” and no more “Paris Agreement.” No First Amendment in this agency. Heresy will be stamped out. Solar should be banned! If you want federal subsidies you will run your tractor or school furnace on coal from Appalachia!  Will the Trump Admin borrow the effective heresy policing used by Saudi Arabia?  Political correctness police armed with clubs to stop folks from talking about climate change in public?  Will they to cut off all funding for states and cities and counties and companies that refuse to deny climate change?  Stay tuned as America tries to recapture the greatness of 1951.  Make Peyton Place great again!  Ban Henry Miller!  Bring back black and white TV and Arthur Godfrey. Where’s Joe McCarthy now that we obviously could use his ranting…

Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2017


To get the dearly beloved wall along the U.S.-Mexican border we have to trash a national park (Big Bend), bully hundreds of local landowners (that’ll be pure fun) and damn those pesky jaguars anyway.

Just the legal costs of fighting individual land owners will be tremendous.  This will be the largest lasnd grab since the establishment of many new military bases at the start of WW2.  Then whole towns and  many farms were taken over, the residents evicted.

How many ranchers or border town residents are gonna volunteer to sell their land to make room for a wall?  The feds will now argue the land is needed for national security or some such and how many courts are gonna buy that argument?   It hasn’t even worked with airport security so far. Watch out for those Honduran terrorists, Mac…

And don’t, whatever you do, look into the history of border walls: Berlin Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, Great Wall of Ch#na, Maginot Line…each now lies in an area between fantasy and tragedy where failure is foretold by those with open eyes.

Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2017


Not one, but two, White-crowned Sparrows in our garden today.  This is not a species that nests anywhere near our home, nor is this their kind of habitat.  Last year I saw this species twice in our garden–both times in April during northward migration.  Thus sighting is two weeks earlier and must come after the arrival overnight of a migrant band.

Our garden regularly gets Song Sparrows who nest nearby.  White-throated pass through and this winter one or two Golden-crowns have been here occasionally.  Fir a brief tine we even hosted a Fox Sparrow. Our local breeding sparrows in this suburban area are towhee, junco and Song Sparrow.  Perhaps at nearby Rotary Park a pair of Lincoln’s Sparrows.  Today’s arrival must surely be part of a group headed north.  Both are in crisp, bright breeding plumage…black and white head highlighted by the sunny yellow of the beak.WC AT BATHWC-ONEWC-TWO
Female Downy:DOWO SUUT

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Mar 29, 2017. 13 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1     calling
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X
White-crowned Sparrow (Gambel’s) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X


Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2017


February was the second hottest February on record…going back over 130 years.  You can find that and other climate news on this federal website. Hurry, before the Trumpistas discover the website and have it removed.  If NASA keeps updating this subversive website they find their budget decimated…how can they get by with participating in the Chinese conspiracy on climate change?  I ask you….

Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2017


In Richmond on San Francisco Bay Osprey are nesting live on the Internet. You can click here to check them out. No eggs yet.

Posted by: atowhee | March 28, 2017


Long before the tech world discovered incubation our avian neighbors had that process working in many ways.  Frogs, spiders and snails lay eggs.  But few animals incubate: bees, ants and birds.  And with birds it is a parental thing.  Females almost always incubate, and in many species the male helps out.  In the phalaropes, only the male incubates.  Today I saw my first incubating Canada goose of the season.  This was at the upper pond at Sheridan’s South Side Park.incubMy friend Eric Lundeen got this nice shot of a Common Loon in complete breeding plumage, something we get to see here only in late spring before the loons head north.  Taken at Newport Harbor:col br plum

Posted by: atowhee | March 28, 2017


So many things, you will lose count.  Starting with the anti-government governor.

And now it seems that some folks in Wichita hate their local egrets which have the unmitigated gall to nest near somebody’s swimming pool.

I don’t think the NRA and Trump can muster enough votes to repeal the Migratory Bird Treaty…otherwise those Whichita birds would go the way of the Alaskan grizzlies which can once again be hunted from helicopters.  Ain’t freedom grand?

Posted by: atowhee | March 27, 2017


There is more evidence that climate change is going to have unhappy effects on Northern Hemisphere weather patterns.  Those of us who don’t believe in divine intervention or fossil fuel propaganda already know that there are likely to be more extreme events.  This latest research indicates that a certain weather pattern is likely to state in place longer…the west to east jet stream will not move as quickly. Heat waves, cold fronts, droughts, flooding–all are likely to last longer…and looooonger.  Weather results like forest fires, floods, droughts, blizzards are going to linger longer.

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